To be honest, the negative campaigning hurt, but it probably was not the deciding factor in this election. The ever-passionate Werner opened himself to criticism on a lot of fronts. He led with conviction and stood on principle, but a majority of Lincoln voters obviously weren't willing to stand with him. More than any of the lies claiming Werner hated the troops, refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance after 9/11, and was hurting Lincoln's cats and dogs, there was the simple fact of Werner's engaging in national (and controversial) issues on city time that voters could not accept. It's the line of attack that stuck and could not be undone - doing a job for which he was not elected - everything else was Republican contempt and insecurity run amok.
In a city-wide race such as this, money is also much more of a factor than it is in the more personal district elections. That's always going to make these elections harder for those who don't have the corporate interests flooding them with cash. Too many constituencies to reach out to at too great of expense. Beating back the tide of Republican-orchestrated personal attacks was all but impossible - the resources just weren't there.
Yes, we lost the shirt off our backs, but at least we still have our pants - Democrat Dan Marvin came in third-place, maintaining his party's majority on the city council. Marvin is a good man who will serve this city well. He will never take the risks Werner was willing to, but that's not necessariy a slight against him. Marvin just isn't Terry Werner. He's promised to be a consensus-builder rather than a boat-rocker and shows every indication of being so. That's fine so long as he proves able to take a stand and hold his ground when it counts - which he will need to do now that Robin Eschliman will be joining him on the council pushing her dangerous "any job's a good job/let's annex Beatrice" agenda.
Now, all eyes turn to Omaha, which has it's own elections coming up on Tuesday, May 10. Douglas County Democrats seem on course for a banner year, but who knows what tomorrow holds, let alone a week from now. Stay tuned (or logged on, hooked-up...whatever works for Internet lingo).